HD antenna recommendations

sdilley14

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Feb 8, 2007
1,238
197
Mesa, AZ
I'm looking for recommendations on indoor HD TV antennas. I'm strongly considering "cutting the cable". From what I understand, a good HD antenna would still allow me to get my local channels (CBS, FOX, NBC, ABC) in HD over-the-air?

My Charter bill has climbed so much since my "12 month new customer" promo ran out, I'm at the point that I just don't feel it is worth it to keep it. Both the cable and internet portions of the bill have gone up considerably.

My plan is to cancel all of my services and close out my account. Then wait however long it takes to be considered a "new customer" again (I think it's 30 days), then get stand alone internet hooked back up. I'm hoping by that time I'm adjusted to not having cable TV and I won't let myself get lured back in with the "new customer" cable TV promo pricing.

It's a pain in the a$$ having to play games and jump through hoops like this, but cable/satellite companies give us few other choices.

*Edit: I've looked at the Amazon Basic antennas. They seem reasonably priced. Would something like that be sufficient?
 
Last edited:

ttate90303

macrumors regular
Nov 22, 2008
172
10
California
Be sure to check out antennaweb.org to know the antenna recommendations. With that said I've had great luck with Winegard FlatWave Amplified Antenna. It's easy to mount (comes with 3M easily removed command strips tape) and pulls in all my local HD Channel (720p and 1080i).
 

sgiera

macrumors member
Mar 25, 2014
45
0
I cut the cord in June because all of my deals expired from Comcast, they would not get me into anymore deals and the cost soured. I looked at a lot of indoor antenna's and found Mohu Leaf 30-$39.99. http://www.gomohu.com. Input your zip and they will recommend the type you need and the channels you will get. I have not had any issues, the pictures comes in clear at 1080i. Just like any antenna, the signal can come distorted at times (weather) so you need to put it up to the ceiling and mess around with the location. I found the perfect place and I get about 28 channels. With my apple tv, for those shows that i don't get, I either get through Hulu Plus or Itunes. Do I miss my DVR, yes. Do I miss some of the channels like TBS, TNT and others, yes but I can get those shows through varies of sites and apps.
 

grahamwright1

macrumors regular
Feb 10, 2008
118
11
North of the Border
I found the perfect place and I get about 28 channels. With my apple tv, for those shows that i don't get, I either get through Hulu Plus or Itunes. Do I miss my DVR, yes. Do I miss some of the channels like TBS, TNT and others, yes but I can get those shows through varies of sites and apps.
You might want to consider a Tivo to replace your cable DVR - much nicer product and really complements the AppleTV :)
 

Irishman

macrumors 68030
Nov 2, 2006
2,670
601
I cut the cord in June because all of my deals expired from Comcast, they would not get me into anymore deals and the cost soured. I looked at a lot of indoor antenna's and found Mohu Leaf 30-$39.99. http://www.gomohu.com. Input your zip and they will recommend the type you need and the channels you will get. I have not had any issues, the pictures comes in clear at 1080i. Just like any antenna, the signal can come distorted at times (weather) so you need to put it up to the ceiling and mess around with the location. I found the perfect place and I get about 28 channels. With my apple tv, for those shows that i don't get, I either get through Hulu Plus or Itunes. Do I miss my DVR, yes. Do I miss some of the channels like TBS, TNT and others, yes but I can get those shows through varies of sites and apps.
I second the Mohu Leaf. You can actually get them at Best Buy now. It really is the best OTA antenna out there for the money.
 

NukeIT

macrumors regular
Mar 20, 2013
233
0
I have a leaf as well, and wired that into a HDHomerun so that I can DVR to my computer.

It all works pretty well. Every once in awhile it is less then desired. But then I just stream the show.

You didn't say your living conditions tho, house, apartment, attic???

That will depend on which antenna you go with. A nice attic array will give you better reception then a mud flap will.
 

Panch0

macrumors 6502a
Feb 23, 2010
683
6
Virginia
I tried both amplified an non amplified versions of an indoor antenna, but neither worked for me. I'm close enough to the towers that it should have been fine, but the construction and orientation of my townhouse worked against me. Ended up putting two antennas in the attic - one for UHF and one for VHF - and I now get great reception. antennaweb.org has great information about the type of antenna that you should need based on your location, but the construction of your home or obstructions in the area may make your particular situation different.

I almost never actually watch my OTA channels - just for sports really. Netflix and Hulu are my preferred sources, although with the new OTA specific TiVo that was recently released that might change...
 

sdilley14

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Feb 8, 2007
1,238
197
Mesa, AZ
I live in a house. I don't really have any large buildings or anything like that around me. Most of the TV stations broadcast within a 15 mile radius.

I'm not sure if putting something up in the attic is really an option. The only access to the attic that I'm aware of it above my bathroom, which is a few rooms over. I'm not sure how I would wire it from my TV to there without it being an eye sore?

----------

I second the Mohu Leaf. You can actually get them at Best Buy now. It really is the best OTA antenna out there for the money.
Is the Leaf any better than the "Amazon Basics" equivalent anteannas (that are a bit cheaper)?
 

sgiera

macrumors member
Mar 25, 2014
45
0
Regarding the amazon antennas, I read the reviews and it looks good. No sense not to try it, its cheaper, and if it works, great. If it doesn't, then return it.

I did all of my reviews and choose the Leaf and I am not disappointed.
 

sdilley14

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Feb 8, 2007
1,238
197
Mesa, AZ
Regarding the amazon antennas, I read the reviews and it looks good. No sense not to try it, its cheaper, and if it works, great. If it doesn't, then return it.

I did all of my reviews and choose the Leaf and I am not disappointed.
Agreed. I'm going to try the Amazon route and see how that goes.

Thanks for the input!
 

dgalvan123

macrumors 6502a
Feb 16, 2008
677
12
If I were you, I would go down to Home Depot and buy an antenna, for ~$35. Hook it up and see what signal you get. If it's not good enough, consider a directional antenna. But in all likelihood it will be good enough.

Regarding DVR:
Just this past year Channel Master came out with what many of us have been waiting for: A DVR for OTA programming with NO MONTHLY OR ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION. Tivos are costly because of the subscription fees (something like $13/month). This Channelmaster one has no recurring costs, and lets you keep your DVR functionality.

I'm already invested in my HD Homerun --> EyeTV --> Mac --> Apple TV setup. But if I started from scratch I'd go the Channelmaster route. My friend has one and likes it.

http://www.cnet.com/products/channel-master-dvr-plus/
 

sdilley14

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Feb 8, 2007
1,238
197
Mesa, AZ
If I were you, I would go down to Home Depot and buy an antenna, for ~$35. Hook it up and see what signal you get. If it's not good enough, consider a directional antenna. But in all likelihood it will be good enough.

Regarding DVR:
Just this past year Channel Master came out with what many of us have been waiting for: A DVR for OTA programming with NO MONTHLY OR ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION. Tivos are costly because of the subscription fees (something like $13/month). This Channelmaster one has no recurring costs, and lets you keep your DVR functionality.

I'm already invested in my HD Homerun --> EyeTV --> Mac --> Apple TV setup. But if I started from scratch I'd go the Channelmaster route. My friend has one and likes it.

http://www.cnet.com/products/channel-master-dvr-plus/
Thanks for the info.

I did some research on OTA DVR and it does look like Channel Master has the best offering. It's a little pricey though.

Are there any other cheaper alternatives? Some sort of set up I could do on my own using my MacBook Pro, external hard drive, ATV, etc.?
 

dgalvan123

macrumors 6502a
Feb 16, 2008
677
12
I did some research on OTA DVR and it does look like Channel Master has the best offering. It's a little pricey though.

Are there any other cheaper alternatives?
None that are as simple as a single box connected to your TV. Your other commercial alternatives for that kind of thing are Tablo, SimpleTV, and Tivo. They all have some form of subscription or "lifetime" one-time payment costs that put their total costs higher than the Channel Master. At $250 (or $350-$400 once you add external storage) for lifetime cost, Channel Master is the cheapest. (See the table of total costs here: http://www.cnet.com/products/tivo-roamio-ota/2/ )

The only down side I see to the channel master is that it is one-unit for one-tv. If you want to have the same functionality on two TVs in your house, you either have to pay for two of these things ("awww. . . I recorded that show on the living room DVR but now want to watch it in the bedroom!)) or set up something with your ATVs. Speaking of which. . .

Some sort of set up I could do on my own using my MacBook Pro, external hard drive, ATV, etc.?
Well funny you should ask. . .Yes!

I describe the system I use in detail here:
https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/1714136/

In short, my system works like this:

Antenna --> HD Homerun Plus (connected to my router via ethernet) --> Macbook Pro running EyeTV --> Apple TV.

The HD Homerun Plus is the (dual) tuner. Plug the co-ax from your antenna into it and it streams the OTA broadcast through your router to your Mac running Elgato's EyeTV software, which acts as your DVR. EyeTV on your mac accepts the streaming video from the HD Homerun Plus and lets you view and schedule your recordings. (and do minor editing like commercial removal if you want to). Once a recording is completed, EyeTV automatically exports it to iTunes. Once in iTunes, any Apple TV on your home network can play them via Homesharing.

Costs:
HD Homerun Plus is $130
EyeTV is $80

So the total up-front cost here is: $210.

(I assume you already have the Mac, the router, and the Apple TV(s).)

There IS a recurring cost for this: $20 per year to TV Guide, which provides the electronic programming guide information to EyeTV. (That's $1.67 per month.) The first year is free, but then add $20 per year thereafter.

So your total cost after three years would be $210 + ($0 first year + $20 second year + $20 third year) = $250.

You can lower that a bit if you buy the $90 HD Homerun instead of the $130 HD Homerun Plus, saving $40. The downside to that is the "Plus" transcodes the OTA broadcast from mpeg2 to H.264 in real time, while the regular HD Homerun does not. Apple TV / iTunes needs the recordings in H.264, so if your HD Homerun hardware doesn't do that, EyeTV has to do it using your MAc's CPU. This is fine, but it tasks your Mac's CPU heavily and it means the recording isn't available on your Apple TV until an hour or more after it was recorded (effectively meaning you can't watch it until the next day, if it was recorded near bed time). The "Plus" does the transcoding in real time, taking the load off your computer and making the exported recordings available in iTunes within 3 minutes of being recorded.

Some benefits of this system:
-Only store one set of TV show recordings on your mac, stream to as many Apple TVs as you want.
-Keep your entire TV interface through your Apple TV. Fewer TV "input switches" might help your Wife Acceptance Factor (WAF).
-You can play with AppleScripts like "ETV Comskip" to automatically filter out the commercials. . . or just fast forward through them when viewing on your ATV.
-You can set EyeTV up so that you can stream your recordings to your iPhone or iPad on your local network OR over the internet.

Some down sides:
-With so many components, there is a higher likelihood of bugs/problems than with a simple one-box-for-one-TV system like the Channelmaster or Tivo. If there's a problem, it could be due to the HD home run or network problems with your router or issues with your Mac, EyeTV, iTunes, or the Apple TV.
-Because of the above, it's likely you'll be the only one in the house who can troubleshoot the system, unless your other family members are tech-savy and have the patience for this.


At the end of the day, it is possible to get a very flexible and low cost system, but it will probably cost you some setup and troubleshooting time. If you're willing to pay a bit more for the simpler, commercial solutions, it might be worth it for you.

Personally I've been using the above-described system in some form for 3+ years. It works well. But as Apple TV adds more and more of its own "apps/channels" (like FoxNow, which lets you stream current season primetime shows, albeit with commercials) I find it's easier to use that for DVR-like functionality.
 

sdilley14

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Feb 8, 2007
1,238
197
Mesa, AZ
None that are as simple as a single box connected to your TV. Your other commercial alternatives for that kind of thing are Tablo, SimpleTV, and Tivo. They all have some form of subscription or "lifetime" one-time payment costs that put their total costs higher than the Channel Master. At $250 (or $350-$400 once you add external storage) for lifetime cost, Channel Master is the cheapest. (See the table of total costs here: http://www.cnet.com/products/tivo-roamio-ota/2/ )

The only down side I see to the channel master is that it is one-unit for one-tv. If you want to have the same functionality on two TVs in your house, you either have to pay for two of these things ("awww. . . I recorded that show on the living room DVR but now want to watch it in the bedroom!)) or set up something with your ATVs. Speaking of which. . .



Well funny you should ask. . .Yes!

I describe the system I use in detail here:
https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/1714136/

In short, my system works like this:

Antenna --> HD Homerun Plus (connected to my router via ethernet) --> Macbook Pro running EyeTV --> Apple TV.

The HD Homerun Plus is the (dual) tuner. Plug the co-ax from your antenna into it and it streams the OTA broadcast through your router to your Mac running Elgato's EyeTV software, which acts as your DVR. EyeTV on your mac accepts the streaming video from the HD Homerun Plus and lets you view and schedule your recordings. (and do minor editing like commercial removal if you want to). Once a recording is completed, EyeTV automatically exports it to iTunes. Once in iTunes, any Apple TV on your home network can play them via Homesharing.

Costs:
HD Homerun Plus is $130
EyeTV is $80

So the total up-front cost here is: $210.

(I assume you already have the Mac, the router, and the Apple TV(s).)

There IS a recurring cost for this: $20 per year to TV Guide, which provides the electronic programming guide information to EyeTV. (That's $1.67 per month.) The first year is free, but then add $20 per year thereafter.

So your total cost after three years would be $210 + ($0 first year + $20 second year + $20 third year) = $250.

You can lower that a bit if you buy the $90 HD Homerun instead of the $130 HD Homerun Plus, saving $40. The downside to that is the "Plus" transcodes the OTA broadcast from mpeg2 to H.264 in real time, while the regular HD Homerun does not. Apple TV / iTunes needs the recordings in H.264, so if your HD Homerun hardware doesn't do that, EyeTV has to do it using your MAc's CPU. This is fine, but it tasks your Mac's CPU heavily and it means the recording isn't available on your Apple TV until an hour or more after it was recorded (effectively meaning you can't watch it until the next day, if it was recorded near bed time). The "Plus" does the transcoding in real time, taking the load off your computer and making the exported recordings available in iTunes within 3 minutes of being recorded.

Some benefits of this system:
-Only store one set of TV show recordings on your mac, stream to as many Apple TVs as you want.
-Keep your entire TV interface through your Apple TV. Fewer TV "input switches" might help your Wife Acceptance Factor (WAF).
-You can play with AppleScripts like "ETV Comskip" to automatically filter out the commercials. . . or just fast forward through them when viewing on your ATV.
-You can set EyeTV up so that you can stream your recordings to your iPhone or iPad on your local network OR over the internet.

Some down sides:
-With so many components, there is a higher likelihood of bugs/problems than with a simple one-box-for-one-TV system like the Channelmaster or Tivo. If there's a problem, it could be due to the HD home run or network problems with your router or issues with your Mac, EyeTV, iTunes, or the Apple TV.
-Because of the above, it's likely you'll be the only one in the house who can troubleshoot the system, unless your other family members are tech-savy and have the patience for this.


At the end of the day, it is possible to get a very flexible and low cost system, but it will probably cost you some setup and troubleshooting time. If you're willing to pay a bit more for the simpler, commercial solutions, it might be worth it for you.

Personally I've been using the above-described system in some form for 3+ years. It works well. But as Apple TV adds more and more of its own "apps/channels" (like FoxNow, which lets you stream current season primetime shows, albeit with commercials) I find it's easier to use that for DVR-like functionality.
Great information, thanks!!
 
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